PacBell Wireless Program Spawns Nationwide Fundraiser for Special Olympics

A program that started last year in Northern California has been expanded nationwide as Pacific Bell Wireless and other affiliates of SBC Communications have created a fundraising partnership to raise $40 million in the next four years for Special Olympics through exclusive PacBell Wireless promotions.

This year's donation drive just concluded and the program is going very well, said Jill Osur, vice president, marketing and development, for Special Olympics Northern California.

Special Olympics Northern California provides year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with developmental disabilities, giving them opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with their own families.

"Locally, our goal is to raise $1 million per year for Special Olympics Northern California. The nice part of the promotion is that last year we conducted this campaign just in Northern California and due to the overwhelming response it was proposed that we take it nationwide this year to benefit Special Olympics across the country."

It's easy to be a donor and there are many benefits. Funds are raised through individual $20 donations to support year-round sports training and competition for local Special Olympics athletes. In the promotion that ran across the country this year from August through early November, donors received a free PacBell Wireless phone, movie rental coupons at Blockbuster, three months of mobile to mobile calls, and three months of Smart Rescue free roadside service. Customer response seems to indicate that it's a very good deal for $20.

"We will most likely end the year by raising $7 million, nationwide. The beauty of next year is that PacBell Wireless and Bell South have merged, forming a company called Cingular. With this change the company will be in 40 of the top 50 markets, the biggest markets for telecommunications businesses. So reaching that $40 million goal in a four-year period is extremely realistic."

Thanks to the success of the PacBell Wireless promotion, part of the funds will send Special Olympics Team USA to the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Alaska in 2001 and the Summer Games in Ireland in 2003.

The program is an example of a pairing of commercial and non-profit corporations that works for both, Osur explains.

"It was a coincidence of timing that created a partnership between both companies," she says. "PacBell and PacBell Wireless were looking for cause-related marketing and it has evolved into an integrated strategic business plan that helps all aspects of the company. PacBell Wireless is well known for giving back to the community. We are delighted that they are helping athletes achieve their goals."

PacBell employees also help provide support for SONC at its many events through the company's Team PacBell Wireless program.

For more information on the program, contact Osur at (510) 553-9833.

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